10 Remodeling Questions On The Home Improvement Process Answered

Answers To 10 Common Remodeling and Home Improvement Questions

When it comes to buying a home, it's all about location. When it's time to remodel your new home, it's all about planning. If you've ever had work done on your home, you know the drill. Cooking meals on a hot plate, grabbing food from the fridge that's in the garage; now those are the trade-offs when remodeling your home. It can be quite an inconvenience, but the payoff can be enormous. The best approach is to be prepared and plan for contingencies. 

If you're considering a significant remodel or home improvement project, here are ten questions to ask, along with ideas for how you can keep everything moving along smoothly.

1. How long will my home improvement project take?

Permitting, inspections and custom cabinetry take time. Sometimes, you won't know how long. Getting permits can vary by location. You may need to seek approval from neighbors or the planning commission that only meets once a month. The process can take a few days or a few months. Give the team at Forward Design Build Remodel a call to discuss permitting in your community.

Start as early in the process as possible. Begin to research permits during the design phase. And try to be flexible about deadlines. Rushing your contractor to meet a deadline can impact quality. Have an open dialogue with your builder throughout the process.

2. Is it possible to build in this weather?

Rain, snow, heat, cold...when planning your remodel, take into account that you will have workers and materials coming into your home for hours each day during your project. That means if it's summertime and you've got the AC cranking, you'll be wasting a lot of energy. If it's the dead of winter, it's probably a bad idea to rip the roof off of your house.

Plan you're remodeling project according to the season. If you want your new kitchen ready for the holidays, begin designing in August. Also, ask how your contractor is planning on sealing up the house to prevent dust and air loss.

3. Is all the noise going to disrupt my life?

You won't be doing much meditating during your project! Workers are coming and going, hammering and electric saws are continually blazing! If you work and are gone all day, it's probably not going to be a problem. But if you have young kids at home, or work from the upstairs office, you might want to find a quiet place to go to get away.

Arrange a daily time to sit somewhere quiet. If you're not a morning person, understand that your contractor will be showing up at 7 a.m. every morning. You'll also need to be available if questions come up. Remember, even if you decide it's time for an extended vacation in Europe while your construction is happening, you'll still need to be available. Make sure you are reachable by phone, text, or email, throughout your project.

4. Does it take long to get the materials I've chosen?

If you're dead set on that imported French limestone, or custom Italian stove make sure you can wait for it! If you absolutely must have it, go ahead and order it, but bear in mind, your job could grind to a halt if your contractor is waiting for materials to arrive.

When you're choosing materials, ask about lead times. And be flexible! If time is an issue, discuss alternative materials with your contractor. There are plenty of beautiful materials available that are as impressive as that handmade backsplash tile, but they will need to be accessible when you need them.

5. Should I leave my home during construction, and if so, for how long?

Remodeling can disrupt your daily life. It might make sense to stay elsewhere. Hotels can get expensive and living with family can be rough for some– especially if your project runs into delays.

If you're undertaking a major long-term renovation, like adding a big addition that might take months, consider renting a place. If it's a shorter term and you can't stay with the family or friends consider buying a small RV or trailer with a kitchenette. It's like having an apartment in the driveway, and when you move back in, you can sell the trailer.

6. Where should I prepare meals and clean dishes?

You need to work with what you've got. If you have space, you should set up a temporary kitchen in the garage or another room in the house. Move the fridge to the laundry room or garage. An electric griddle, toaster oven, outdoor grill and hot plate in a spare room can get you through most meals.  Do the dishes in the bathroom sink, or use paper plates and plastic silverware. Remodeling is disruptive and you have to eat, so make sure have a plan!

7. Where will we be expected to go to the bathroom?

If you have multiple bathrooms, this won't be a problem, but you'll probably need to share a bathroom with the kids. It is also important to ask your contractor if his workers and subcontractors will need a place to go.

Get a portable bathroom for the workers. A portable toilet costs about $100 a month, and there are higher end versions available if your remodel will be taking all the bathroom offline.

8. Where are you planning to store materials before they are needed?

Your builder will need an area to stage your job. The best place is in the garage or driveway. If this space isn't available, you'll need to find a protected area to store materials.

If for example, your custom cabinets are ready, and you can't store them, your contractor may have the maker store them, which can add costs. If it's a big job, consider renting a portable storage container to hold materials.

9. Do I need to worry about my yard?

It's not just a porta-potty. A major renovation means trucks parked in the driveway, a dumpster, pallets of materials and debris everywhere. Expect a mess.

Talk to your contractor and know when the city requires trash to be picked up. In some locations its daily, others weekly. Let your neighbors know whats going on. Sometimes your contractor can send a letter. Either way, it's the right thing to do.

10. Does my homeowner's association need to get involved?

Your HOA or planning commission may have some restrictions or regulations you'll need to follow. For example, if you live in a historic district or planned community.

Check to see if you need to get your design approved, or if there are restrictions on work. Some HOA or planning boards may also dictate hours your contractor can work, or prohibit work on certain days. This can set your project timeline back and should be considered before work begins. Research this early in the process to avoid delays.

A home improvement project can be a disruptive experience. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed! However, with a little planning, and open communication between the parties, you can make it run much more smoothly. Be prepared, and work with your contractor. Remember, you'll need to plan for a number of contingencies. If you take the time before you start and plan your attack, your home improvement project can be made much less disruptive!


Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.